Posts Tagged ‘Dreams’

WHAT DREAMS ARE AND WHAT THEY DO

December 20, 2020

Dreams are fundamentally simulations of situations which can be imagined. This is their main function and evolutionary utility. That’s why and how they appeared. Dreams prepare our neurobiology to react to potential real worlds… which we have not experienced yet, like a bear appearing suddenly after making itself as flat as rug…

Dreams also are also… built to help guess new interpretations of situations that we may have encountered already. Yes, dreams are built! Dream machinery is the fundamental scientist, setting up thought experiments in universes we can’t imagine yet… before the dream happens.

Indeed, before the experiment, there is always the thought experiment. Before the idea, there is always the dream. Dreams are more about construction of appropriate neural networks… than interpretation… although dreams can also make neural interpretations of situation which have been encountered.

To understand how that could be, how these simulations… and stimulations… which we call dreams, could occur and leave a trace, one has to understand the consequences of a completely revolutionary idea: ideas and dreams correspond to neural networks within the brain… One has also to understand a further step in complication: that emotions derive, in part from generalizations of neural networks (and the topological influences, not to say computation, the neurohormones they secrete… operate).Neural networks are real objects, not dreamy stupidities a la Plato not belonging to the “real’ world. Existence in the real world means energy and inertia. Thus dreams appear from energy and inertia, and acquire existence from them. It matters, literally, matters in the physical sense, what we dream. Dark Dreams Matter.  

It’s not us who do stuff in dreams, but rather dreams which make us into what we are.

In other words, ideas, dreams and emotions all have physical reality, they are sets of physical objects (embodied categories to use mathematics). But they are also different notions from each other: ideas can be consciously visited (that’s probably enacted by sets of connection to a higher level “meta” layer of neurons… probably in the frontal cortex)… 

Dreams are only preparations of ideas… ideas, the stronger networks, can get consciously inspected, because they are stronger and connected to the meta-conscious layer. The weaker networks correspond to the subconscious (or the nearly conscious) and when those are activated, in sorts of chain reactions, we experience what we call dreams… Shall we have them again and again, Hebbian reinforcement occurr, making them stronger and thus into emerging consciousness…

The mechanism fostering dream states is the shutting down of parts of the brain which actively, or passively, suppress other parts of the brain. This happens naturally during sleep (it can also happen from variegated training, for example meditation, deepsea apnea diving, etc.). Hence the connection of dreams with sleep… But day-dreaming is definitely possible, whether in awake or “woke” states: it’s just a matter of shutting down inhibitions. (The woke/cancel culture is then a giant dream-like state of freedom from a previous perception of reality, and inhibitions…)

Having the capacity of dreaming, and that of imagination, which is related, means that human beings are ready to handle, as if they had experienced them, situations which never occurred before in experienced life… Or which were not even imaginable consciously! But those circumstances did occur in dream life… and left behind half-cooked neural networks…. But half ready networks means that they can turn into functional networks quickly. Hence the capacity of human beings to adapt to situations unforeseen in real life, but already experienced in dreams…  

Dreaming, and imagining, make human beings more intelligent, as the brain trained with the science of the imaginable in anticipation of whatever may come along.

We are the thinking animal, and that means thought experiments upon not just the realities we experienced, but also thought experiments upon the realities which live only in our minds.

According to Plato, Socrates enjoyed the advice of “daemons”, and many thinkers have argued that some inner voice advised them to do some things, or prevented them to do some things. When philosophers look inside themselves. they are searching for this inchoating neural networks… where the future, or alternate, often better, more real versions of reality lay [1].

Patrice Ayme

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[1] “You have often heard me speak of an oracle or sign which comes to me, and is the divinity which Meletus ridicules in the indictment. This sign I have had ever since I was a child. The sign is a voice which comes to me and always forbids me to do something which I am going to do, but never commands me to do anything, and this is what stands in the way of my being a politician.” — Socrates, Plato’s Apology

The point being that politicians do not do introspection, searching for this inner, tentative networks. All politicians do is read. manipulate and exploit public logical and emotional networks: politicians’ minds are intrinsically about the past and the mob, that’s why they should be cancelled, as the end-all, be-all . Whereas intelligence is all about creativity and the future. And creation starts always with new neural networks… Deep inside.

The Dark Sides, And Why We Need And Love Them

April 17, 2020

There are two sorts of Dark Sides. There is the Dark Side in the sense of Evil… Which all religions admit exist, independently of the Good Lord, or, and, various benevolent divinities (“Mary”, better angels, etc.). Christianism and Islamism have the same solution, Satan, inherited from Hades/Pluto or Angra Mainyu, or other child-killing gods such as the Carthaginian Cronus (or the would-be child killing god of Abraham). 

However the Bible God and his Muslim version spend an inordinate amount of time being completely enraged… So it’s even recognized that the Good Side needs the Dark Side:

“Be Angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger”- Ephesians 4:26.  

If one wants to chase a lion away, prehistoric people knew very well that one can’t just turn the other cheek. Some modern “philosophers” who don’t get that one, would not have made it, intellectually and biologically speaking, three million years ago… (And that was the problem all too many had with Hitler, as Israel knows very well, baffling the simplistic Berlin, a Jewish philosopher of renown among ectoplasms…)

(I hit once a dangerous bear which had charged me, with a large rock. It didn’t like it, and fled. Three weeks later the same bear injured a grandmother and rangers killed it. Just in California in the last few weeks, there were instances of children mauled by coyotes and mountain lions; each time a charge by the parents got the ferocious beast off; I have personally charged American lions three times… and once baffled terminally an African lioness just when she was going to kill a third party…)

Van Gogh absinthe fuelled starry night delirium… The night, the time when, undistracted by reality, one can imagine worlds with more possibilities than those apparently observed so far…

And then there is the Dark Side one meets at night. After a hard day generally finished by a bit of outside exercise, bathing, preparing dinner for the higher-ups (one of them ten years old) and a bit of reading and writing, I love to extinguish the light, and enjoy total obscurity. Where does this love for The Dark come from? Is it related to the other… Dark Side? Well, it partly, just partly comes from there. 

The explanation is simple: darkness elicits melatonin, a sleep hormone and antioxydant, enabling the world of dreams, those parallel universes where imagination is master of all, slave to none. That’s when neural networks go crazy, includes those oen didn’t know one had, including what they are up to…

In a sense, dreaming is ultimate entertainment, it’s sketched with evocation of imagination. Imagination is not just entertainment, and goes beyond knowledge of facts, as it opens the landscape of possibilities, even the craziest ones

 

A relation of dreams with Evil is that, as evil all too often does, nocturnal imagination anticipates all the possibilities. Indeed quite often people engage in evil behavior in anticipation of what they imagine could be going on, or could, someday, happen. 

Dreams are both heavens and hell, among other things. Recent dreams of mine saw me being smothered by giant octopuses (once, as a child, I attacked in the sea an octopus which fought back and bit me)… perishing from heat (nearly happened for real in Africa when I was less than 2 years old), or being witness to an imaginary party where male and female plutocrats rushed around tables where free needles are there which they inject in their arms (I have seen arguably even more degenerate Pluto parties, for real, where participants ate gold… and were just as hysterical, what they call “having fun”…)

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When people behave, not always optimally, pontificators often opine that it is out of fear. And fear is derided as something one should not just fear, but also despite and condemn. But as a mountain runner, fear has always been my friend. And not just to speed up when I spot an ominous cloud, harbinger of icy cold, hail, wind and lightning. Once on a single track path in the mountains, running around a corner (not a good idea), I saw a large rattlesnake. No time to brake. But fear was in command, paying attention, and did the obvious: accelerate, jump above it. Another time, high altitude skiing in spring, I observed a large avalanche coming my way (thanks to fear looking up in a timely manner). I displaced myself slightly on an eminence and thousands of tons of the heavy duty wet snow avalanche passed a few meters away. I could go on like that for another page (I go out in nature a lot).

What fear does first is to keep one aware and awake. The fundamental fear for the mountain runner being as simple as spraining one’s ankle, one mountain range away from the closest road. In cases like that I always tried to be as fearful as possible. Once I determine that a climbing partner is not afraid enough, I will lecture them about that, and if that’s not enough, not climb with them (in spite of these precautions my spouse and I nearly got killed by partners who were not afraid enough…) 

 

So fear is, of course, contrarily to its ugly repute from caviar philosophers, noble. Without fear to steer our species and their ancestors in the last few million years, there would be no humanity. A recent example is that Coronavirus: much more fear, early on, would have saved many lives and economic disruption. And, in the future, it will be wise to fear much more the thermonuclear, internet controlled dictatorship of a guy called Xi, elected by no one, but for an oligarchy of his fellow crooks and goons… 

 

Imagination, in other words, dreams, can feed evil, feared, imposed, anticipated or experienced and reciprocally…

Patrice Ayme


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